Tag Archives: Saints

Our Angel

But He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

This passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has come to me so many times in my life.  As my mother still lays dying, simply awaiting the birth of her Grandchild, Jacob, (more on that later) I am grasping this profound scripture on a whole new level.

Many people have told my Mom throughout her 2 battles with Cancer that she is an inspiration.  She would tell you, “I’m just me.”  My sweet Mom did not feel like she was stronger, most definitely not more “heroic” then any other person fighting for life — she was simply doing ‘what needed to be done’ to sustain the life she so desperately wanted to still share with us that know and love her.  Yet, she is a hero to many–I told her last night that she was mine–for leading a life uncommon and leaving a legacy of love that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation in her honor.  In a world fraught with so many problems, tragedies, persecutions, etc…a beautiful, pure, light such as my Mom seems so rare, and thus that more precious.

As for me, I first learned love and truth from my earthly parents – and I thank them for the beautiful example they have set.  Not perfect, as no one is except in Heaven, but as good as they could possibly try to be.  And as I continue to receive so many beautiful messages for Mom, my family, and myself, about how the love we have given has made even a small difference in someone’s life, well, it is extremely humbling.  Mom always believed in treating people the way you wanted to be treated.  How drastically would this world change if people actually followed that “Golden Rule”, based on the premise that they actually love themselves in an ordered way and know also how to carry themselves with dignity?

Back to St. Paul, I know more about weakness then strength.  I read kind and thoughtful messages from dear friends saying such things like how ‘courageous and strong’ I am, and quite frankly it is nothing at work in me except God that provides those appearances.  I know that’s probably what my Mom feels, and definitely what St. Paul was referring to in my opening scripture.  You see, as a friend of mine discussed with me the other week, it takes a more strength (to assent from your human will) to surrender then to hold on.  It seems the natural thing to try and hold on and control things, but through experience and being disciplined, I have learned that the more I try and hold on, the more turbulent things become.  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, and just when it appears that I have seemed to make even the smallest progress in that area, the Lord asks me to go deeper in trust and let go, or detach, from something even greater or harder.

Letting go of my Mom is the hardest thing that has ever been required of me.  But seeing how greatly such an angelic woman has suffered, well, it provides the necessary motivation to surrender.  My Dad, 3 brothers and their wives, myself and my fiancee, Mike, have all made our peace with Mom.  We have shared all the love, tears, laughs, and words needed, and told her to go Home in peace.  All that she asks about now–as her earthly light fades, and her heavenly one increases–is about Jacob, who will be the newest addition to the family of my brother, Paul, and his wife, Pilar.  I imagine this baby, Jacob, wrestling in Pilar’s womb, with his frequent starts and stops, much like Jacob in Biblical times wrestled all night with an Angel.  As many refer to my Mom as an Angel, I pictured the two, Jacob and Mom, in a tug-of-war, with Mom praying for him to arrive quickly, and Jacob resisting leaving the comfort of his mommy’s tummy to enter life as we know it.  And poor Pilar is caught up in the mix of it!

Well, God-willing, we will hear of Jacob’s arrival soon.  As my Mother laid crying in her Hospice bed the other morning, I asked her what it is that she wanted before she passed away.  All she kept echoing was, “I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob,” as the tears streamed down her face.  I told her God was listening to her, and we prayed as my brother, Jeff, led us into trying to help usher that child into being born.  Well, as of the last we heard at around 9:00 pm EST last night, Pilar was having contractions 15 minutes apart and Paul was pre-loading their bags into the car to be ready.  I am up in the middle of the night with much anticipation, as I await the news about Jacob, and wait to see how it will affect my Mother’s delicate state.  Her body is shutting down now as the Cancer grows and takes over.  I hate Cancer, I hate it.  But I love my Mom and God, and know we all will get through this as so many before us have, and many after us will as well, God forbid.

But there will be one more Angel, or I think of her now as standing more with the Saints, Eve Marie Sanchez, in Heaven to intercede for suffering Cancer patients and families.  She will be powerful in prayer, and loving as ever – true to always how she has been, and perfected in Love for all eternity.

I am quite certain that I am sharing some very personal thoughts and family moments with you here and now for a purpose greater then I can now understand.  I know undoubtedly that there are people who need encouragement and to experience GOD’S LOVE for the first time, or again; and even in her preparations to leave this earth, it is amazing to see how the love in and around my Mother is still doing that.  I am in awe, and know that people will still respect my family and the suffering that are also going through even now.  I write to process these things as well, and it is something healing for me, and hopefully for my family too.

I will bring this to a close now.  As my Mother’s first Grandchild, Alyssa, my niece, holds a special relationship with my Mom.  At only 13-years-old, I am very proud of the sweet and faithful young lady she is growing into (good job, Jeff & Annette!).  She has shared many beautiful writings with us over these trying months and weeks that have moved many adults to tears.  The last one she wrote before they left my parent’s home on Monday is what my Mom said that she’d like to go with her in her casket.  Since a public tribute it will become, I felt it honoring to both my Mom and Alyssa to share it here and now, as it says everything much more simply and perfectly then I am able to at this point.

On the front of the paper, Alyssa drew a picture of a lovely Angel, and it says, “My Grandma”.  On the back, it says that which my Mom is longing for as well as what I will leave with you for some time now (I will be with some of Mom’s family coming in soon, and attending to some of the many loose ends to wrap up as time allows…):

You will have long hair in Heaven.

You will have the most beautiful dress in Heaven.

You will have nice long legs so you may dance in Heaven.

You will have wings to show you are free and can fly in Heaven.

You will have the brightest smile for when you look down at us – our day will be wonderful!

You will have a halo to show you are an Angel, but you don’t need one to show you are one now.

I love you, Grandma,

Alyssa

Your 1st Granddaughter

UPDATE as of 6:15 AM on 1/18/11:  I just got a call from my brother, Paul.  They are at the hospital, and Pilar is dialated at a 4 out of 10 right now.  She is having pretty severe contractions right now, and they will not be going home – this baby is coming!!!  But it will still be awhile.  Poor thing, she is exhausted, not having slept in 3 days, and has even gotten sick in her labor.  Please pray for God’s will, including strength for Pilar, support for Paul, speed for Jacob, steadfastness for Mom, and peace for us all.

Finally, this beautiful song from Audrey Assad, has also been speaking to my heart.


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Open Wide the Doors!

“Doors will be opening for you in many areas of your life”

That was the message tucked inside of my fortune cookie this afternoon while out lunch with my Sweetie at the local Asian Bistro.  “Now there’s one for the blog,” I thought.  Over the past year since I began this journey that I’ve been blogging about here and there, I’ve opened various windows presented to me as other doors closed. Those windows have let in a refreshing breeze and rays of sunshine into my life.  Yet there are doors I feel that are being prepared me for that He wants to open in my life, and yours, if we will allow it.

Walking by faith is not always simple at times.  In my prayers I tell God that I want to do His Will.  Then shortly thereafter my will often chimes in, since after all it has so many “great ideas” of its own on how to participate or not in God’s plan.  Thankfully we serve a merciful God, who desires good things for his children, and can make up for where we are lacking.

Painting of the Mystical wedding of St. Catherine of Siena by Lotto Lorenzo

I’m grateful to a dear friend who gave me a booklet of St. Catherine of Siena, Mystic and Doctor of the Church, with a treasury of quotes to inspire my writing. It didn’t take long since I received “Sermon in a Sentence” yesterday, with that extra nudge from my fortune cookie, to incite this post.  In St. Catherine’s famous Dialogue with the Lord, he expressed to her, and reminds you and I today:

“I will fulfill your desires, but do not fail…in your hope in me. My Providence will never fail you, and every man, if he be humble shall receive that which he is fit to…receive from My goodness.”

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Happy Birthday Blessed Mother Teresa

An inspiring example to us in word and in deed, Mother Teresa would have celebrated her 100th birthday today.  Glad to know such an inspiring Saint shares the same birthday as my brother Jeff – there’s hope for him yet – LOL! 🙂

Here’s a beautiful tribute to her.  Mother Teresa always had a simple way of saying something so profound, so I hope the words will resonate with you.

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A Valentine for Him

With only five days until Hallmark’s lottery of a holiday, one cannot enter a store without the visual bombardment of heartshaped overkill and death by chocolate, make it a double.  Yet at the heart of Valentine’s day (ba dump bump), the memorial of a Saint who gave his life for Love, exists noble intentions still.  It is from there that I have decided to allow my pen to try and release a bit of what is contained within my heart.

There is a love which has changed me, a love from which I will never recover even should I desire to do so.  All from a man who selflessly provides for me daily, accepting and appreciating me always just as I am.  Everyone who really knows him can’t help but love him.  He’s incredibly gifted and all too generous. He’s doing very well for himself considering he has abundant resources at his disposal, yet remains so humble.  I could go on and on…  You may be thinking, why have I not heard about this amazing relationship – what?!  But you have, I talk about Him often.  You see, there is none but Him, none but Jesus.

I share my love poem to Jesus with you, so that maybe you too will look within your heart and share with Him what is there, or perhaps even what you want to be there. You don’t have to write it out, you could pray it, sing it, YouTube it, skywrite it or whatever.  Love is not meant to be contained, so however you do it, let it be a true expression from you.  After my poem you will find a video of what I imagine could be His response to my Valentine.  With a moving slideshow, “God Is” by Danielle Rose, is the musical pairing I’ve selected.  Her voice, those words – well, just listen, you’ll understand.

MY VALENTINE FOR HIM

His is the heart from which all desires emanate and actualize.

With radiance that shatters obscurity, He illuminates the path of hope.

He is mercy that is unfailing, inexhaustible, crucified, and conquering.

Endlessly outstretched, His arms ache to impart the redemptive embrace.

Shrouded in humility, He remains incomparably reknown.

The purest proposed, His love is eternally in pursuit.

All-consuming is His enkindling fire, which purifies where it blazes.

Then quenching is His ocean of peace which pervades.

His faithful gaze is ever watchful, guiding, protecting.

The existence of all creation rests in His generous hands.

Who am I, that even a whisper to Him should escape my lips?

Though gently He takes my hand, dazzlingly adorns me, and draws me near.

In Love’s victory our hearts rejoice, each beat releasing restlessness and fear.

Mine is the heart comprising all I have to return to Him, which is His delight.

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St. Andrew, Pray for Us

St. Andrew

May this Christmas Novena prepare our hearts to receive the King of Kings

Like his brother, Simon Peter, Andrew began as a Fisherman who, mentored by the Lord, later became a Fisher of Men. Originally a follower of St. John the Baptist, once John declared, “Behold the Lamb of God!”, Andrew accepted his calling as the first disciple of Christ.  It is believed that after Jesus ascended into heaven, Andrew took the Good News to Greece.  Suffering persecution for his faith, he was tied to a cross and left to die.  For two days as he hung there, he continued to preach to those gathered.  A remarkable example of faithfulness to his last breath, St. Andrew, pray for us.

The following Novena prayer was given to me by an employee of Franciscan University, affectionately called the “Queen of Novenas”. As she handed me the prayer card, the beloved Switchboard Operator, Erla, confided that this was a powerful Novena, and to choose my intention carefully. As such, I faithfully uttered it fifteen times a day as my Grandfather suffered from terminal Cancer.  How blessed was I then to share the most tender and undoubtedly the most memorable of all of our Christmas gatherings with Grandpa and our family on the final day of the Novena.

It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.

St Andrew novena

Imprimatur
+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

Further reflecting on the call of St. Andrew (John 1:35-42), there is a simple exchange between he and Jesus that has revealed a more profound meaning to me this day.  As the passage relates, the Lord had sensed Andrew walking behind him, and asked, “What do you seek?”.  Andy responded, “Where are you staying?”  Jesus replied, “Come and see.”  And after they had stayed with him but a short time, Andrew went to his brother, Simon Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messiah.”  In this “the Rock” was led to his Discipleship, to encounter Christ and thus embrace the greatest calling on his life.  In meditating on this passage and prayer as we prepare for His coming, I feel He poses the same question to us, “What do you seek?”  Whatever the intention may be, all of it can be traced back to our deepest longing — for Him.  Desiring to experience more of Him, we may inquire just as Andrew did, “Where are you staying?” Just as He did over 2,000 years ago, he lovingly responds, “Come and see,” and He takes us deeper into our hearts to encounter Him ever anew during this Advent. Growing in our relationship with Him – the King of Kings who resides within us – may hopefully lead us to respond as this Saint did.  Unable to contain his life-altering discovery, Andrew sought out his brother exclaiming, “We have found the Messiah” and led his loved one to Him.

May this Advent be a time of blessing for you, a new journey of deeper discovery after that which you seek.

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Happy Feast Day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us!

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us!

“I have glorified you on earth; I have finished the work you gave me to do.  And now do you, Father, glorify me with yourself, with the glory I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to those whom you have given me out of the world.  They were yours, and you have given them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they have learned that whatever you have given me is from you; because the words you have given me, I have given to them.  And they have received them, and have known of a truth that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.

“I prayer for them, not for the world do I pray, but for those whom you have given me, because they are yours; and all things that are mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, keep in your name those whom you have given to me.

“But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, in order that they may have joy made full in themselves.  I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

“Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those who through their word are to believe in me.

“Father, I will that where I am, these also whom you have given me may be with me, that they may see my glory which you have given me, because you loved me from the foundation of the world.  And I have made known your name to them, and will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I pray that this spiritual journey alongside me guided by St. Thérèse of Lisieux has been one of blessing for you, and that her “Little Way” has become enlivened in you somehow. Happy Feast Day, my friend, and may your novena prayers be answered by a heavenly shower of roses this day!  And I can’t wait to hear about it either, so don’t keep them to yourself – share the blessings you receive!

 
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A Test of Faith

As a beautiful little child, St. Therese of Lisieux

As a beautiful little child, St. Therese of Lisieux

Although winding down, it still is Day 1 of the Little Flower Novena.  As I had stated my intention to leave some Therese tidbits for daily sharing and inspiration, here is today’s tale.

I will briefly set the scene.  Not yet fifteen years of age, Therese was considered too young to join the Carmelite order that she desparately longed for.  In an attempt to gain the special permission required, she not only had meetings with the Bishop, but with the Pope himself.  Waiting for the deepest desires of her heart to be fulfilled was a great source of mortification and suffering for the young girl.  In her autobiography she descibes this test of faith quite poignently:

“My heart was broken when going to Midnight mass; I was counting so much on assisting at it behind Carmel’s grilles!  This trial was very great for my faith, but the One who watches even when he sleeps made me understand that to those whose faith is like that of a mustard seed He grants miracles and moves mountains in order to strengthen this faith which is still small; but for His intimate friends, for His Mother, He works no miracles before having tried their faith. Did He not allow Lazarus to die even after Martha and Mary told Him he was sick?  At the wedding of Cana when the Blessed Virgin asked Jesus to come to the help of the head of the house, didn’t He answer her that His hour had not yet come? But after the trial what a reward?  The water was changed into wine…Lazarus was raised from the dead! Thus Jesus acted toward His little Therese: after having tried her for a long time, He granted all the desires of her heart.”

A few months after her audience with the Pope, special permission was granted by Therese’s Bishop to allow her early entrance into Carmel.  God sometimes draws back to draw us forward.  What an inspiring reflection on faith and God’s faithfulness.  I hope that the richness of this message will minister to your hearts, especially if you can relate to Therese in the suffering of waiting on the Lord.  Therese and I are “soul sisters” on this point, as I can relate.  Yet, as I was encouraged by the message that I heard spoken by Nick Vujicic, a limbless man, in his powerful testimony on YouTube the other day:  “If God hasn’t answered your prayer yet, perhaps He is strengthening your heart for something greater.”  He doesn’t always have to move mountains, He may just be asking you and I to be patient, because it will be worth it.

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